The single parent’s survival guide to dinner

Do you know the feeling…it’s been a long day and yet you’ve tried to make the most of dinner. Some vitamins, some colour, nothing extraordinary, just, you know something healthy…

The food isn’t even on the table yet before number one claims she has a headache and therefore…no appetite…number two is tired and iritated, and number three starts screaming as if you try to feed her poison:  ‘what’s this?! Oh no, I can’t eat that!’

All you can think is ‘why did I even bother? ‘ and….. ‘Now why isn’t there another adult at this table to  tell me ‘well, honey this is just delicious, kids, don’t fuss, eat your dinner!’? ‘

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Some nights, you’ve just got to do what makes everybody happy: feed ‘m pancakes and ice cream…………… with hidden vitamins….

For your pancakes, just make your usual batter, then add a grated zucchini (use these light green ones if you can, they’re perfect camouflage. If you use the darker green ones, be prepared to answer questions  such as ‘Mom, what are these green spots in my pancake?!?’…now try to answer that without using the V-word!

Bake and serve as you normally would…..then sit and watch them eat their veggies and smile…..

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Since we’re in a good mood, why not add some ice cream? Blend 2 chopped banana’s (frozen) and a large mango (cut into small pieces)  with the juice of one lemon. Serve, watch ‘m eat, enjoy……

Don’t feel like eating pancakes? Make yourself some soup! Chop another zucchini, boil in a little vegetable stock, throw in a handful of kale, add some cumin, coriander and black pepper, blend. Serve with some (vegan) cream, and a good swirl of ground red pepper. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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simple, tasty lentil soup

Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups e-ver.

The basis is always the same: red lentils, an onion, vegetable stock, some veggies and cumin, lots and lots of cumin……

I can eat this for days on end, and it’s a good way of using some leftover vegetables aswell!

This version is extra creamy because I’ve added coconut milk.

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You will need:

200 grams of red lentils – an onion – a large carrot – a red paprika – 800 ml vegetable stock – 250 ml coconut milk  – 2 table spoons of sunflower oil – 2 table spoons of ground cumin – a table spoon of ground coriander – half a table spoon of ground curcuma – half a table spoon of curry spices -red pepper flakes according to taste ( the more the spicier) – dried mint

 

Chop the vegetables, wash your lentils, heat the oil in a large pan. Stirr fry the vegetables, lentils and spices (except the mint) for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and  boil for 20 minutes ( or until lentils are soft). Add coconut milk, stirr well and boil for another 2 minutes. Blend smooth, and serve with a topping of dried mint, pepper flakes (and, if you like…more cumin!).

very, very tasty with home made flatbread!

 

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DIY playdough

When the kids where younger, I often made their own playdough.

Now they are older, they play with playdough less often, but it’s still a success during the holidays! This time I made a cinnamon scented pink batch. Fun ( and a few quiet moments for me) guaranteed!

 

You will need: one cup of salt, 2 large cups of flour, 2 large cups of water, 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1,5 teaspoon cream of tartar, a large pan and a wooden spoon. Optional: foodcolouring, scents).

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Put all ingredients (except the foodcolouring) into the pan, and stirr above medium heat. Stirr well!  Within a minute or two you will see your mixture changing into a playdough-like ball.

Remove from pan and place on your workspace. Allow to cool, kneed thoroughly and add foodcolouring according to taste.

Now, let’s play. When done, store in an airtight container and use again and again.

playdough

You can use this recipe for very young children too. They love to feel, kneed, smell, touch….taste….., and you don’t have to be afraid they put anything poisoness in their mouth if they decide to taste it!

Vegan ‘oliebollen’

It’s a Dutch traditon to eat oliebollen (fried dough) on New Years Eve, and in our family it’s a good tradition to bake them ourselves.

You can buy oliebollen everywhere these days, but if you’re a fan of homemade, of a morning  spent behind the frying pan, hungry kids swarming around your legs, clouds of icing sugar and batter everywhere…the 31st of December is the best day of the year!

This year I used a recipe of the ‘Nederlandse vereniging voor Veganisme’, that I came across on Facebook:

oliebollen

375 gr flour, 375 ml water, 30 gr sugar, 7 gr dried yeast, 3 gr cinnamon, 110 gr raisins, a few drops of lemon juice, 4 gr salt.

Mix all ingredients into a sticky batter, cover your bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 45 minutes.

 

Meanwhile heat the oil in your frying pan. Use 2 spoons to place drops of batter in the oil, fry for about 6 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius, or until crispy and brown.

I never manage to make perfectly round oliebollen, but the odd shaped ones taste just as good. This year I managed to bake a baby dinosaure !

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Sprinkle with icing sugar, eat and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Vegan merengue, finally!

It was all over internet the past few months, vegan merengue. As sweet and tasty as the original, but made with an unexpected – and vegan – ingredient: Aquafaba, the water in which your chickpeas have been soaking; the water from the chickpea can. I used to pour this down the drain, just like most of you I guess, but now there’s a sweet alternative. Chickpea dinners now come  with almost instant sweet deserts.

Aparently, the chickpea water has the same qualities as egg white. Is it the proteins from the beans? or something else? I haven’t had time to look up the theory behind this, but I did some experimenting, and Oh boy! whatever it is that causes chickpea water to be turned into sweet tasty merengues, it must be a good thing!

If you want a tried and tested recipe, or if you want to be inspired by tasty pictures of numerous posibilities for vegan fluff, vegan marshmellow and vegan merengue, jus go to Pinterest! 

vegan merengue

Here’s how I made mine:  This is NOT a sugarfree recipe!

Drain the water of a 400 ml can of chickpeas. Make something tasty with the chickpeas.

Use a mixer or kitchen machine to whip the chickpea water into a smooth, white creamy substance. This is remarkably quick and easy.

Meanwhile, add 5 spoons of sugar, slowly one by one.

I also added 2 drops of vanilla essence, and for half of the mixture, some red, vegan foodcollouring to create pink merengues (too pretty, we ate them before I could take a picture).

Heat your oven up to 110 degrees Celsius. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray, and  spoon small amounts of fluffy stuff on your paper (about a soonful each). Leave some distance in between. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour. Check if they are dry, and adjust baking time if necessary.

we like’m crispy on the outside and just a tiny bit chewy on the inside.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight container….or eat…..

 

vegan merengue christmas

As you can see, we had company, enjoying this vegan merengue! Now where did they come from? I guess they have been hiding among the Christmas decorations for almost a year. They seem happy enough to be let out again!

Christmas decorations……. something to write about in a next blogpost, soon!

 

 

 

 

Vegan bananabread

I think it’s two years ago since I first participated in the Vegan Challenge. During the Vegan Challenge, hundreds of people  sign up to eat vegan for an entire month, to share experiences and to receive tasty recipes in their inbox. The next edition starts on October 1st, over 1700 people have signed up,  and I’m in!

Ever since that first Vegan Challenge, I’ve started eating vegan more and more. I remember feeling like a failure when, during that first challenge, I somewhat gave up after a week or two. Nevertheless, that challenge taught me a couple of succes recipes that I still use. And over time, I tried again and again to eat 100% vegan. That, however is something I haven’t achieved as yet.

I do believe a plantbased diet is better for the environment, and for a lot of animals, and I feel healthier and ‘cleaner’ when eating vegan. Participating in this next edition of the Vegan Challenge I hope will help me focus more, and be inspired to cook, bake and eat vegan more and more…..

To get in the mood, I explored the Vegan Challenge website, looking for new recipes. I came across a recipe for vegan banana bread (hurray! all other recipes I found contained eggs or dairy), and this was a real must try since I had a couple of brown spotty bananas waiting on the kitchen table.

The orginal recipe can be found here, but I made some adjustments because:

A. it was Sunday evening when I baked this, and I had to work with what was available (use what you have etc…..)

B. I am trying to cut down on my sugar consumption so I wasn’t comfortable with adding 150 grams of sugar

C. I had only 2 bananas instead of the required 3, so I adjusted the quantities of the other ingredients a bit.

vegan banana bread

First, I pre-heated the oven at 180 degrees Celsius, Then, I mixed the following dry ingredients in a bowl:

250 grams of whole wheat spelt flour, 50 grams of coconut blossomsugar, 50 grams of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 75 grams of chopped apricots, 75 grams of mixed nuts (walnut and pecan), 2 table spoons of cinnamon (because I looooove cinnamon, and because an extra touch of cinnamon can compensate for the lack of sugar, I hoped).

Then, in the blender I mixed:

100 ml of water, 100 ml of sunflower oil, 2 ripe bananas and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

I added the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stirred a bit. Then I filled a small baking tray with this batter. I added  some raw cocoa nibs to the rest of the batter and filled 6 cupcake molds with this. I put it all in the oven and removed the cupcakes after 25 minutes. I baked the larger cake for 40 minutes, let it cool down a bit, put the kids to bed and made myself a cup of tea…..oh boy.

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From now on, I know what to do with overripe bananas!

Sugar free granola and crumble

Inspired by Sue Quinns ‘Everyday Sugarfree Cooking’, I decided to experiment a bit with using (dried) fruit as sweeteners in some of my favorite recipes.

In her book Sue Quinn clearly explains what refined sugar does to your body and why it’s not good for you. The book is also filled with 65 delicious recipes. This time not using stuff like agavesyrup to replace sugar, but using (dried) fruits as a source of sweetness. And that, I tell you, is very inspiring!

Her recipes are sugarfree but not necessarily vegan aswell, some are though, and with some creativity you’ll come a long way with the non-vegan ones.

sugarfree granola

The granola and crumble I made are not recipes out of this book, but where inspired by it. Next time I’ll be making stuff right out of the book. There’s a jar all set and ready, waiting to be filled with Sue Quinns home made sugarfree ketchup. And her chocolatemousse made with dates and coconutcream made my mouth water just by reading the recipe, yumm!

Today, I tried making granola without sugar of any sort, and well, it worked! I won’t give you and exact recipe because I was too busy experimenting to measure properly and to write everything down, but this is what I used:

dry ingredients: oats, flaxseed and chopped nuts

wet ingredients: coconut oil and some organic sugarfree peanutbutter.

I mixed the wet and the dry and spread it all out on a baking tray. After baking for 20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius, I added:

chopped dates, chopped dried apricots and grated coconut

I mixed it all together, and baked for another 5 minutes. After letting it cool down I stored the granola in a jar in the fridge. I must say it’s a bit less sticky than the one I made last week, perhaps because of the lack of sugar. But…later today I found out that my foodprocessor is quite capable of mixing dates, apricot and coconut oil into a sticky, sweet paste, so that’s worth a try on making the next granola batch…learning by doing so to speak…..

sugarfree crumble

For desert I made an apple crumble, using organic apples that I found at our local supermarket, and some cinnamon. For the crumble: a mixture of oats (grounded in my foodprocessor until it looked like flour), some semolina, ground walnuts and some grated coconut. To turn it into a crumble, I added a mixture of coconut oil, dates and dried apricots. I let the foodprocessor do its magic, having it work for about a minute, and got a really sticky paste. I added the dry ingredients, spread everything out on top of the apples, and baked in the oven for 20 minutes at 150 degrees.

The outcome was tasty, sweet and crumbly…yes crumbly…but oh so tasty! I think this calls for some more experimenting, but the beginning is promissing.

I’ll definitely use fruits as sweeteners more often, I’ll experiment some more with my crumble and granola, and I really should start making the recipes from Sue Quinns book!

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PS: I was a bit terrified to try at first, becaus what if they’d break? But it turned out these milkglass dishes I hunt for in the thirftstore are very good at standing the heat, and are very suitable for baking. I’m happy…they come in so many sizes and designs, can be found in most thriftstores, and doesn’t every dish look prettier in a bowl like this?